Posted by Dr. Anthony G. Payne
By now just about everyone who keeps up with the news has read something about the hacking theft and now publication of the Ashley Madison “Life is short. Have an Affair®” database. If you somehow missed it here is a summary article that appeared today, Thursday, August 20, 2015: Hacker’s Ashley Madison data dump threatens marriages, reputations
In an article that also appeared today titled The Ashley Madison hack will have a mixed result for those involved, the writer shared this:
I had joined out of curiosity and for research purposes when I was Townsville’s premier dating columnist. And it’s safe to say that I am not alone in being a relatively ‘innocent’ Ashley Madison user.
I somehow suspect that more than a few individuals who joined Ashley Madison did so just to see who’d respond to the (no doubt inflated or totally fake) profile they posted.
In the same article, a computer security expert by the name of Graham Cluley shared this:
“For one thing, being a member of a dating site, even a somewhat seedy one like Ashley Madison, is no evidence that you have cheated on your partner,” he wrote.
“…if your email address is in the Ashley Madison database it means nothing. The owner of that email address may never have even visited the Ashley Madison site.”
It is also noted by Cluley that “It turns out Ashley Madison didn’t require users to verify their email address in order to use the website.”
“Put simply, people could enter any email and have access to the free features of the website.”
With all this said, a computer programmer created a simple search feature anyone can use to see if an email address appears in the Ashley Madison database. It is at https://ashley.cynic.al/
There are, of course, some high profile people who set up one or more Ashley Madison accounts and left a trail that leaves little doubt about who is responsible. One that is in the news is Josh “19 Kids” Duggar whose alleged connection to AM is discussed in this article EXPOSED: Josh Duggar revealed as having ‘paid almost $1,000 for multiple Ashley Madison accounts’ as 37 million would-be love-cheats are named by hackers who stole Ashley Madison accounts
As you might expect, articles now abound which offer advice as to what folks listed in the AM database should do next. Predictably this advice runs the gamut albeit most advise “fessin’ up” and dealing with the fallout head on. Naturally, lawyers, marriage therapists, psychologists and others are likely to see an upswing in couples visits in which one party cheated through Ashley Madison and was exposed after the AM database came to light.
Of course, there really isn’t anything all that shocking in all this. After all, a day hardly passes in which some prominent politician, religious figure, television personality, high ranking military officer or such gets caught up in scandal after an affair comes to light or some other dark sexual pursuit comes to light.
I get human weakness. And the fact that people (perhaps men especially) are predisposed by their nature (evolutionary biology) and upbringing to have wondering eyes. Throw in lots of free time and the ease of reaching others anonymously through the Internet and you wind up with the current situation: Married people flocking to date sites, sex chat sites, cheating sites, porn sites and all the rest.
Of course, people who have considerable influence, power or wealth seem even more vulnerable, if only because they attract those seeking solace or sex or money or what-have-you. Some feel “entitled to cheat” due to their special station in life or the challenges they must deal with.
If you are reading this and happen to be cheating on your significant other be it an emotional, sexual, or cyber affair, and feel shameful, guilty or troubled, then there is hope for you. How so? Ask yourself this: When people do immoral or unethical things and feel no guilt or shame about this, what happens when their dark pursuits are exposed? Typically, rationalizations and arguments surface that place the blame on the victim.
So if you are cheating in some way and feel bad about this, you have a conscience and know you are doing wrong. I now have another question to ask you: Why are you cheating?
Bored? Looking for missing passion? Lonely? Lust-filled and unfulfilled? Emotionally isolated or adrift? Feeling misunderstood by your significant other or ignored by him or her? Getting older and feel you need the attention of another to validate your good looks or worth? Overwhelmed in some way and feel you can’t look to your mate or family for help? Think there are things about yourself that if revealed are so dark or loathsome that only a stranger or new love interest could brush it aside and love or desire you anyway?
Maybe it’s one of these things or many of them or all of them or none of them. Let’s set aside the “why” for now and look at the fruits of cheating: Betrayal, disloyalty, a violation of sacred commitments, and, yes, cruelty. Does bad fruit bear a good crop? You don’t have to be a farmer or horticulturist to answer this question.
In our age of “I’m spiritual and not religious” there is a tendency to replace the 7th Commandment with platitudes that allow and excuse latitude; to forget, ignore, dismiss or downplay the fact that infidelity is sin; to gloss over the fact it offends the Almighty and has both spiritual and real world consequences.
The good news is that if you recognize you are sinning, forgiveness is a simple matter of changing your mind about what you are doing and asking forgiveness (A process called repentance or teshuvah), and then marrying right actions to your beliefs and commitment to do the right thing.
For most of you reading this, admitting your sin and seeking forgiveness is actually the easy part. The real knockdown, drag out part is breaking free of the pull of sinful pleasure and surmounting the temptation to backslide or (to use modern parlance) relapse. Triggers and lures abound and many find themselves so weak and overwhelmed by the almost drug-like pull of pleasurable sin that they can’t hold a straight course.
I get this too. To put it in familiar, Star Trekkian terms, your shuttle craft is caught in a powerful tractor beam and you have burned out your engines trying to break free or in the process of burning them out. Or so it seems.
The good news is that you actually can break free and achieve and maintain a moral course. Now for the nuts and bolts of how to “make this so”.
First, of course, there is the simple act of calling sin, sin and turning your back on it. I assume if you’ve read this far you either have made up your mind to do this or will seriously consider doing so soon.
Now the part that trips up so many people: Bringing conduct into conformity with their wishes, convictions and beliefs. The hard part which actually isn’t IF you do something most folks fear doing: Run to God rather than from him and ask that he do whatever is needed to redeem and change your sexual nature and its expression.
Ask yourself this: What is the natural thing for people to do with bad habits and sin? Of course, hide them from man and God. Think about when you were a child and did something wrong and you feared your Mum or Dad would find out. Did you run to them and confess your wrong doing and seek help? No, you most likely hid the cookie crumbs or broken vase or what-have-you and lied. Then you grew up and stopped doing this with respect to a lot (maybe most) of your mistakes, sins and such, at least with respect to trusted others and intimates in your orbit. But when it comes to especially grievous sins did you run to or from God? And if you ran to God, did you do so without any real deep desire that he actually do whatever it takes to, well, straighten you out. Too scary eh, like opening yourself up to a spanking as a child?!?
Now let me show you what really turning something like lust and sexual weakness completely over to God’s keeping consists of (Again, this is the key to moving towards the obedience and holiness God demands if we are to live decent, happy, genuinely fulfilling lives):
In dealing with men who are cheating on their wives or did so and are tempted to do so again, I invariably walk them through admission of their sin and repentance, and then ask them if they are ready to marry actions to their intentions and beliefs. Once they say “yes” to this, I ask them if their sex drive or fantasies or memories or such seem to ruling them and undermining their resolution to do what’s right. For those that signal this or something like it is making mincemeat of their commitment to change, I hand them this challenge (This is a condensed version of what I tell them):
I want you to trust God completely with all you are including your sexuality. Your prayer to him is for resolution and empowerment, not a band aid that fits what you want or think will work. You need help and power to be obedient and do what the Rabbi from Nazareth said to sinners he encountered which is ‘Go and sin no more’. You’ve told me that your sexual needs are not being meet and your sex drive is overwhelming. What you are really saying is ‘God, help me but don’t mess with my sexual needs and drive’. I am telling you now that this is exactly what you must surrender to his keeping. And now comes the test of your desire to be holy as he is holy: are you willing to ask the Lord to diminish or even remove your sexual desires if it takes this for a time to free you to get into him and his Word and become conformed to what he would have you be sexually?
I call this “radical surrender” and for good reason! It isn’t for the faint-of-heart or insincere but I think it within the reach of every person who sees sin in him- or her- self and wants to do a 180 about and live in obedience to (and dependence on) God and his revealed Word (The kind of active faith that produces holiness). And, by the way, it works.
Can this be done without fingering underlying issues and dealing with them? I’ve seen some people do a turnaround that unleashed God’s power in their lives which effected change in them that resolved previously unresolved issues and weaknesses and the like. Others needed to identify their problems and issues, typically in therapy with their significant other, in order to get resolution and set specific goals and objectives for themselves and their relationship.
For those that need some guidance and tools to identify unfulfilled needs and “relationship busting” habits and behaviors and weaknesses, I heartily suggest heading on over to “Marriage Builders®” at http://www.marriagebuilders.com/. This website is filled with tests, article, guidelines and such.
Readers might also want to take this 5 minute online “Attachment Style” test which was developed by university researchers: http://www.web-research-design.net/cgi-bin/crq/crq.pl. Certain attachment styles are detrimental to intimacy with God and significant others and need to be addressed.
In this regard, check out Problems relating well to God & your fellow man? Your attachment style may be a major contributor
In addition, you’ll find many other free online tests covering personality, moral foundations and such here on my personal blog site: https://biotheorist.wordpress.com/2011/11/26/know-yourself-better-free-on-line-tests-empathy-systemizing-attachment-style-moral-foundation-implicit-biases-etc/. “Knowing yourself” better may reveal areas that need healing or shoring up.
And now for some “meat not milk” spiritual help (Evangelical in orientation but nonetheless brimming over with insights gleamed from Biblical truths and principles):
- Go and Sin No More: A Call to Holiness by Dr. Michael L. Brown
- Good or God? by John Bevere
- Breakthrough Faith: Living a Life Where Anything is Possible by Larry Sparks
But let me add this caveat: A lot of Christian theology and beliefs (including portions of the books above) draw on the very flawed letters (epistles) of Paul (Saul of Tarsus). It is therefore important that you also acquire the knowledge and insight to identify what is edifying and true from what is not. These two free, online resources will help you mightily in this regard:
Jesus’ Words Only (Second Edition 2007) (Free online in its entirety) by Douglas J. Del Tondo, Esq.
If you are one of the people listed on the Ashley Madison database and were or are cheating, or cheated or are cheating without the use of any club or service or forum, consider the AM hacking scandal your wake-up call; your invitation to repent, turn your back on infidelity, and do what’s needed to “go and sin no more”.
Anthony G. Payne, whose American Indian name is “Summer Cloud”, is a native born Texan and an American Indian (Bureau of Indian Affairs CDIB card holder) and member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. Despite having grown up in the “reddest parts” of North Texas, Tennessee and Louisiana, he is a political liberal who embraced democratic socialism in the 1980s. He is also a religious and moral conservative but no friend of fundamentalism/creationism or those pet beliefs of evangelical Christians that run contrary to what the Rabbi from Nazareth advocated and lived. Dr. Payne is a married monk in the Knights of Prayer Monastic Order and is in service as a monk to several other religious communities & monastic organizations which are part of the New Monasticism movement. Readers and seekers can readily reach him at email@example.com.
© 2015 by Dr. Anthony G. Payne. All rights reserved.
Tags: 7th Commandment, Ashley Madison, attachment style, attachment test, being holy, Breakthrough Faith, can't stop cheating, can't stop lusting, cheaters, divorce, Dr. Michael L. Brown, Dr. Willard F. Harley, foregiveness, Go and Sin No More, Good or God?, hackers, holiness, infidelity, Jesus, John Bevere, Larry Sparks, lust, Marriage Builders, moral foundations test, moral weakness, Nazarene, personality test, redemption, repentance, sin, sin no more, Tesuvah, Yeshua
Posted by Dr. Anthony G. Payne
Time flies. If you were around to see the debut of the classic comedy “Animal House” 35 years ago you are likely feeling a tad old. But like so many great movies, Animal House managed to both reflect and illuminate certain aspects of our culture. And in light of today’s headlines one is tempted to think some of our political leaders have been running their lives as though they live in the Delta Tau Chi fraternity house.
Given the middle-aged shenanigans of more than a few prominent politicians just in the past few years one can’t help but picture them standing in front of Dean Wormer and hearing:
“Old, horny and reckless is no way to go through life, son”
What gives with all these indiscretions? And let’s not just focus on big name powerhouse figures. I mean, why are so many people of all ages, sexes and ethnicities posting sexually explicit photos and videos on the Web? I’m no prude by any means, but there is something deeply weird and unsettling about the seeming endless stream of people photographing and videotaping what they do behind closed doors and sharing it with the world.
Most are hardly adult movie star material and yet seem almost proud of their (ahem) shortcomings and imperfections. And while some might say it’s a good thing to strike a blow against the Madison Avenue world of plastic smiles & plastic bodies, I somehow do not think the antidote is for people to toss modesty to the wind and share themselves “warts and all”. I’m sure some do what they do because they think highly of their “performance” and “mentally inflate” their assets. I suspect many if not most have become the butt of cruel putdowns and heartless jokes by Web browsers. I’m also sure some come to deeply regret their actions especially when confronted by a child, grandchild or other relative concerning something explicit they posted long ago and had hoped would somehow disappear with the passage of time (Apparently nothing posted on the Web ever does).
No doubt some of these self-styled sex performers suffer from body image & performance misperceptions if not delusions, but beyond this I have to wonder what else bedevils them. I’m not saying they all have personality defects or struggle with emotional or mental problems or sex addiction, but even so I am pretty sure at least a segment of them do what they do as an expression of narcissism, an attachment style disorder or mood disorder.
One expert on relationships and how reckless sexual behavior can endanger and even derail them, Rabbi Shmuel “Shmuley” Boteach, wrote this in a 2011 Examiner article concerning the sexual antics of Anthony Weiner and Bill Clinton:
These are all men who live with an unending craving for love and incessant need for attention, forever proving themselves, and therefore despising their very existence which involves an eternal feeling of inadequacy and unworthiness. Men who hate themselves this much and strive eternally for the validation of others harbor a secret wish that, in way or another, the inner torment will cease. That’s why they play Russian Roulette with their lives. Anything to dull the pain.
I think in some instances it boils down to something much simpler: In psychology it is well established that rewards (pleasure) derived from any activity makes people want more. This cycle of reward-reinforcement becomes a vicious, ever entrenched cycle for some folks. As they feed it over time they begin to feel helpless to resist and it becomes so normative they may not feel it is a problem (That is, until they get caught doing something that offends their mate or violates a local ordinance or state or federal law). Some become alienated from themselves and those who love and care about them.
To paraphrase a biblical observation concerning unrepentant sinning, their “conscience becomes seared”.
Oh, Choctaw Doc, you’re just conjecturing and in-a-way judging these people without any real evidence. Judging, no. Concerned about, yes. I could dredge up studies to buttress the mental health aspects of this “let it all hang out” social phenomenon, but prefer instead to share real life examples of what sometimes lies beneath the surface in some instances.
I interact with many licensed mental health professionals who occasionally share specific cases that they have found especially troublesome or unnerving (They do not, of course, mention names or details that might reveal their patient’s identities). Here are but a few:
A woman in her 50s sought help with mood swings and eating binges. As her female psychologist dug into her life story, she was told about more than 3 decades of “sexual abandon”. Specifically, her husband had convinced her to “spice up their sex life” first by filming their bedroom life and posting these clips to various websites and, when the thrill wore off of this, pressured her into having sex with other men while he filmed this (“Cuckold lifestyle”). She felt “dirty”, “nasty”, “used” and was “plagued by endless intrusive mental images of degrading sex”. The funny (pathetic) thing was that her husband sent her to therapy because he felt “she has problems, but I don’t”. Yeah.
A young woman in her 20s sought help with depression and insomnia. One of the things her therapist discovered was that this lady was racked with guilt and shame over explicit photos and videos her boyfriend had posted on a very popular porn site. The boyfriend had long since taken a stage left and found a new victim…eh..girlfriend..and left this young woman to live with the torment “giving in” had spawned in her heart and soul.
Now these are just a few examples of the “real world” consequences of “airing one’s peccadilloes”. Many pastoral counselors, priests and rabbis feel the immediate and downstream spiritual damage is even greater and have plenty of their own horror stories that attest to this.
For those who are involved in the sorts of things I’ve shared in this article and have no shame, guilt or concerns, there is no way to convince you that your chickens may come home to roost down the line. Where there is no insight, there can be no realization anything is wrong or could go wrong.
For those who are or have been caught up in these activities and feel shame and regret and/or are experiencing compulsive-additive behavior, my advice is to get thee to a licensed, competent mental health professional who is experienced in helping people with these issues.
And finally, for those of you who are tempted to “play with fire” or who are already doing so but aren’t sure why and don’t feel you need professional evaluation, at least take a few free on-line psych & personality tests to see if you are depressed or have some other issue or tendency such as:
What is your attachment style? This interactive survey takes about 5 minutes to complete. The questionnaire is designed to measure your ‘attachment style’–the way you relate to others in the context of intimate relationships. When completed, the site will reveal your attachment style, and provide a brief summary of what is known about your attachment style on the basis of contemporary scientific research.
Depression Screening Test by Ivan Goldberg, MD – -brief 18-question online automated quiz to help you determine if you may need to see a mental health professional for diagnosis
and treatment of depression
And here are some books and articles that I believe will prove helpful:
Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality by Dr. Gail Dines
Marriage Builders® (Lots of free help on this website)
For those who have a problem or suspect they do, here are a few reputable sources of help:
If you live in southern California one highly regarded clinic that specializes in treating additions of all kinds including sexual is the Alternative Options Counseling Center. Call 562-921-5701 or 714-995-0359 (Outpatient primarily but “partial hospitalization” available for some patients)
A simple Google search will likely turn up at least a few qualified therapists and programs in your particular neck-of-the-woods.
© 2013 by Dr. Anthony G. Payne. All rights reserved.
Tags: alienation, ALternative Options Counseling Center, Animal House, Anthony Weiner, Arnold Schwarzenegger, attachment style, Bill Clinton, cuckold, cuckolding, Dean Wormer, depression, John Beluschi, Marriage Builders, mood disorder, nude videos, porn sites, pornography, Rabbi Boteach, Salvation Army, Schmuley Boteach, sex addiction, sex addicts, sex tapes, sex videos, sexting, sin, X-rated